You know when you were a kid and you had to walk places... and there was always this one kid in the group that had a bicycle? And while you're walking with your friends or even by yourself, your bicycle friend makes big circles around you, zooming ahead for a couple minutes then circling back around. Wobbling the handlebars side to side to keep balance... anything to keep the bike upright, so you didn't have to walk...
I feel like I'm that kid to my pioneer self. I push ahead in bursts and then do wide circles around where the "original" wagon train might be. I can go waaaay back and grab something, circle around and then go waaay east see something and come back to the timeline...
As much as I am loving seeing all the things the pioneers saw and experiencing it as far as sights, smells, flora and fauna... I have time to kill for them to "catch-up"
Right now, I'm so close to the Wyoming border and this next move is going to put me into it! That is SO exciting. This is pivotal to my pioneer self because one, it's a change in the geography... they only THINK things were difficult thus far and two, it signifies the halfway point...it's hard to believe that my trip is almost half over!! And then three, their celebration of Independence Day. It was an important day to them. While the majority strove to reach Fort Laramie for that event, (which I'm using as my marker), many of them would stop the trains for the day, just to celebrate. The women, who had been saving the last of their sugar and maybe candies or dried fruits would bake cakes and pies for the special day. I'd like to do that too.
But in the mean time... I'm still way ahead of schedule.
So this past week, I discovered that not only am I close to the Wyoming border, Colorado is just a hop skip and a bike ride over one way, and South Dakota is north the other way!
I went to Julesburg, CO for the afternoon and it turned out to be a most pleasant day. There's a lot of history tucked into that little corner of the state. It was the only place that the Pony Express stopped in that state. (Just like me! Boop! Touched the corner!)
And the little town had to relocate three different times before it could finally settle in it's forever spot.
I toured the museum and talked with the locals and just over all had a nice day. I love a small town anyway, so it was easy for me to find amusement.
A couple days later I headed up to South Dakota. I stopped at the memorial for Wounded Knee and I don't know what I was expecting, really... a monument... a garden, something... I don't know. But there was only a giant sign that told the briefest of brief history on the site. There was a small parking lot and in one car, a man sat waiting for the opportunity to sell his beaded dream-catchers. (They were beautiful and I probably would have bought one, but I had zero cash!). and then, while I was reading, there was a drive-by hawker. An older woman drove up next to me and rolled down her window... "Hey," she said. "You want to buy some earrings?" I couldn't help but laugh. I didn't mean to, but just oddity of it all. She peeks a package just barely over the window frame of her car, "I've got some right here. You want to buy them?" Still giggling, I pulled back my hair and showed her, "I don't wear earrings, I'm sorry." She shrugged her shoulders and drove off...
That was weird.
Other than that... when left alone with my thoughts and my feet touching the earth, it was very heavy... there really was a sadness over the area. It was an open field and you could see the rolling "sandhills" in the distance, with a few buttes pushing up the landscape, but the air was very still.
There was a graveyard up the hill and I decided to drive up there, but I was struck before entering with, I'm not sure if it was fear, or reverence or a combination, but I couldn't go in. I don't know if these sites were from Wounded Knee or if they are from the local tribes, but some were very old and others looked new. I saw sleeping bags and mattresses tucked around some of the tombstones... there were strips of cloth tied to a fence that separated the center section of graves from others. It wasn't kept up. The grass was over-grown, and the fence around the whole thing was damaged. It was just a sad place. Not that graveyards are ever happy places, but this just exuded sadness from every blade of grass to every pebble of dirt. It took a few miles, once I drove away to shake it off me. But even now, as I write about it, I can feel the weight of it in my chest.
On to happier things though... as I drove, the landscape began to change. Suddenly I went from miles and miles of farm land or cattle pasture to these, I don't know... cliffs, mini mountains?? They looked like they could be made of sand or dirt... some looked as if God stuck his thumb under the earth and pushed up a chunk of it to see what would happen. It was such a stark contrast to the flat prairie.
Then they happened more often... then these hills and buttes became groupings... and finally, a full wall appeared with the tiniest road leading me to them... I entered into the "Interior" of the Badlands National Park.
If you have never been here, I would urge you to add it to your bucket list. This park which is less than 300,000 acres is beyond explination. Just when you think you've found the words to describe the majesty you're seeing, you round another bend and it looks completely different. Same, but different.
I really forgot to read the signs that were posted everywhere, I meant to, honestly, but there was just so much beauty and I couldn't stop staing. I took a billion and one photos and while they too, are beautiful, they just don't do it justice.
Add it to your list... trust me. It's raw beauty, and I'd hate for you to miss it.
My GPS threw a fit and decided to take me back the LONG way home (I haven't figured out yet how to argue with my GPS... I just have to trust it, which I really don't like...).
It was an extra hour to my trip, which the only thing that bothered me about that was having to buy the gas which is really expensive here and the budget keeps getting tighter and tighter. But it was a truly beautiful drive. I got some amazing photos.
I'm out there alone, driving on this two-lane highway surrounded by beauty. I had the freedom to stop right there on the road, snap my pictures and continue on. No, I do not recommend this practice, nor the one where I'm still driving, but snapping pictures out my window... but, I was all alone. No one was there to tell me not to... (That's my story and I'm sticking to it!)